Not all master’s degrees are the same, though there is often confusion between the traditional Masters of Business Administration and newer master degree programs like the Master of Health Administration. What’s the difference between the MBA and the MHA in healthcare management? We’ll share a number of differences between them as well as discuss their similarities.

Demand

Both the MBA and MHA are in demand. The BLS predicts that demand for medical and health services managers will grow by almost 20% over the next ten years. Which degree course is better though will depend on the specific job that is wanted.  An MHA is ideal for those who want to move into healthcare management, whereas an MBA holder will want to specialize in a healthcare concentration to achieve the same promotion. The MBA vs. MHA debate has been discussed widely and it can be hard to know what is best for you. In general, if you want to advance to leadership and executive positions, the breadth of knowledge is as important as depth, and you don’t get that depth with an MBA.

Efficiency

There’s another reason to choose an MHA over an MBA for medical professionals who want to advance their careers. When you earn an MHA, every class is relevant to your intended career. You aren’t taking classes in marketing or business management that are unrelated to the healthcare business. For others, the specialized classes allow them to move into new areas without spending four years in school. One example would be those who concentrate on medical information systems and technology or healthcare finance. Now you can move into the hospital’s IT department or management position in the billing department with only a master’s degree. This focus on only what you need may let you finish an MHA degree in a year instead of taking two years with an MBA.

Career Paths

Someone in the healthcare field may want to earn an MBA to learn how to market a practice, manage cash flow, and handle people. Medical professionals who want to own and run their own business may, therefore, benefit from an MBA over an MHA. Someone working in the financial department of a hospital or healthcare network may leverage an MBA to advance their career in billing, collections or financial management; this has the side benefit of being able to move into a similar role in almost any other business. If you want to move into the healthcare industry, an MBA is helpful, but an MBA with a healthcare management specialization is a better transition degree.

Opportunities

Healthcare administrators with an MHA earn around $70,000 as healthcare administrators, $60,000 as practice administrators and $160,000 as hospital administrators. According to industry surveys, the healthcare administrator with an MBA earned about $65,000, practice managers around $55,000, and Directors of Operations earned about $86,000. This means that both an MBA and MHA can lead to a career in healthcare management, but MHA degree holders earn a little more, on average.

The MHA degree is a relatively new master’s degree focused on the healthcare industry; it has many advantages over the MBA if you want to advance in the healthcare industry.

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